Security is about dealing with worst-case scenarios. To take down one person, for example, two officers should suffice, according to simple odds. In security, though, the details matter. What if that one person is well-trained in combat, has a weapon, or is simply a bloody good runner?

That’s why they sent three for me: just in case. Three for her, too, so four masked agents burst single file through our front door, while another two guarded the rear. No knock first, no warrant required, just a controlled explosion of steel meeting wood, followed by the rapid thud of boots into the house and the soft hiss of gas.

As it happened, we were both into martial arts, although not to action-movie standards. No training, however, is likely to be of much help when armed soldiers interrupt the act of coitus. Where my mind should have been planning a way to isolate each attacker and improvise, it instead mourned my rapidly dwindling erection.

Through the unnecessary groping and the cold click of handcuffs, my treacherous thoughts mused on the gender balance of the invaders. As dictated by protocol, they had sent men for me, women for her. Who did they send for transgender, or ambiguously-gendered targets? Why did it matter, at this stage of things?

She looked pensive, too – a neat trick while stark naked – and neither of us made a sound as they escorted us outside and shoved us into the back of a truck. The door rolled swiftly closed behind us, and within seconds we both began to giggle helplessly. The Nitrous would do that to you, apparently, and cause dissociative thoug… Oh.

With that final consequence branded deep into my mind, I abandoned all hope of escape.

My ideals, my pride, had been torn from their pedestals and dragged through the dirt and grime until their lustre was worn away. And all for a voice I no longer wanted. Want itself was a fond memory, and I survived, if that’s what I did, on some primal level; eating what was given, doing as I was told, and carrying the dead to those beautifully engineered furnaces, all blood and shit, heavy limbs and gassy stench surreal against an antiseptic backdrop.

I wondered what had happened to her, usually in the dark of night, when the past swam almost into focus. I loved her, had promised her so many things. She was always stronger than me, so she was probably dead by now. I mourned without tears, without need, simply because I remembered that it was the thing to do, one last shred of my former life.

When she came, my mind refused to work.

Shouts, an explosion, gunfire. I am stone.

Air rushing past me. The guard’s head exploding quietly, like an egg hitting the kitchen floor.

I watch, I observe, but I do not yet see.

I am told to walk, so I walk. Or try to.

I am carried strangely, gently. Placed on a stretcher.

There are words I recognise, but do not comprehend.

Revolution? The rotation of an object around a central pivot point.

Freedom? A myth, a fantasy. A dream.

Her face pulses into view between each heartbeat, and I know that I am dying.

And yet I live.


This piece was written for Nika Harper’s Wordplay #7. The challenge was to write a beginning and an ending, without a middle, using the prompts “fragile desire” and “someone has to clean this up.”